Life and times

The ac­tor and co­me­dian Miles Jupp

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENT -

I had au­di­tioned for the role of An­gry Man, only to be of­fered the part of Im­po­tent Man

MY WIFE AND I TOOK our five chil­dren camp­ing in Wilt­shire re­cently. Given that the youngest is just two, this was pos­si­bly a sign of lu­nacy. Camp­ing, like cy­cling or golf, seems to be one of those hob­bies that can draw even the sane into the ruth­less ac­qui­si­tion of kit. We got as far as buy­ing a tent big enough for us all, and a se­lec­tion of sleep­ing bags and ground mats. But wan­der­ing around the camp­site I be­gan to envy the lev­els of lux­ury other fam­i­lies had achieved. Open tent flaps re­vealed airbeds and du­vets. Peo­ple had erected huge out­door liv­ing ar­eas equipped with ta­bles and chairs and stoves, and gaze­bos be­decked with fairy lights. Some even had firepits. We, as it oc­curred to me one night while at­tempt­ing to read, have yet to ac­quire a torch. Still, an ad­e­quate tent rep­re­sents real progress for me.

Thir­teen years ago a friend and I walked the West High­land Way, and took with us a tent that I had bought for £25 in Ar­gos to take to Glas­ton­bury the pre­vi­ous year. One morn­ing – and in the tent ’s de­fence it was Fe­bru­ary – we awoke to dis­cover that the en­tire thing had frozen solid. The roof was cov­ered in ice, both out­side and in­side. We pulled out the pegs and the ropes stayed com­pletely rigid. Af­ter an hour of try­ing to thaw it we gave up and snapped it into pieces. Firepits be damned.

I AM AL­WAYS HAPPY to take my chil­dren to the cin­ema near our house in South Wales. We wan­der along, buy our tick­ets and pop­corn, take our seats and then, once the film starts, I fold my arms, drop my head and go off to sleep. It’s a wel­come respite from the hurly-burly of our noisy and child-filled do­mes­tic life. We’ve been to see Cap­tain Un­der

pants twice now and I’ve still only seen about two thirds of it. I’m per­fectly con­tent to snooze in the cin­ema ir­re­spec­tive of what I’m watch­ing, but I’ve now done this so many times that it’s im­pact­ing other ar­eas of my life.

I ar­rived half an hour early to au­di­tion for a scary film re­cently and de­cided I’d spend the time run­ning the lines in my head. In or­der to do this I folded my arms and shut my eyes. The next thing I knew I was be­ing awo­ken by the sound of the cast­ing direc­tor call­ing my name. I then stum­bled foggy-headed into the au­di­tion and made a pig’s ear of it.

I sup­pose it’s a use­ful skill to be able to nod off in­stantly – oc­ca­sion­ally. But I’ve es­sen­tially de­vel­oped a shut­down mode.


Movie I no­ticed that Sir Pa­trick Ste­wart was pro­vid­ing the voice for a char­ac­ter called Poop, who was, as his name sug­gests, a pile of poo. I am in no po­si­tion to be snide about the choices made by other ac­tors, and pre­sum­ably Sir Pa­trick felt the op­por­tu­nity to voice some fae­ces would only come around so of­ten.

It’s never nice turn­ing down any sort of act­ing work and I’ve cer­tainly done my fair share of hap­pily turn­ing up to film sets to play name­less vic­ars, but­lers and wait­ers who have a sin­gle line. I did once turn down a role with no lines – play­ing a man who got kicked in the pri­vates – but only be­cause I wasn’t free that day. Just once have I turned down a part be­cause of the char­ac­ter’s name.

I had au­di­tioned for the role of An­gry Man in a film, only to be of­fered the part of Im­po­tent Man. Not only would Im­po­tent Man be de­scribed as such in the end cred­its, but for the du­ra­tion of his time on screen, the words ‘Im­po­tent Man’ would be cap­tioned across it. Stung by the fact that my at­tempts to por­tray anger had put the cast­ing direc­tor in mind of im­po­tence, I let that one go. Egg & Soldiers: A Child­hood Mem­oir, by Damien Trench, as told to Miles Jupp (Head­line, £18.99), is out now

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